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030723_ Supermarket Plastic Bags Charges_ Would This Reduce Singaporean’s Usage of Plastic Bags_

Supermarket Plastic Bags Charges: Is It More Worth Getting Trash Bags?

profileHui Juan Neo

Source: AmyandRose

Are you guilty of this?

We’re not sure where this obsession comes from, but from today, you may no longer have that many plastic bags at home.

Because from 3 July 2023, major supermarket chains in Singapore will charge 5 to 10 cents ($0.05 – $0.10) per plastic bag.

Would your grocery expenses increase over time?

Yes, that is if you pay for plastic bags. And how are you going to throw away your trash at home?

Surely you will need to use plastic bags to line your waste at home? How should we balance out the usage of plastic bags vis-a-vis the need to pay for them?

Let’s find out!


TL;DR: Plastic Bag Charges in Singapore & Is It Cheaper If You Buy Trash Bags?

Click here to jump:


Why Is Singapore Charging for Plastic Bags?

For the environment and sustainability, period.

The conversation about charging for plastic bags started way back in 2019 when NTUC FairPrice kickstarted a trial by imposing a plastic bag charge at 25 outlets.

The bags were charged at 20 cents per transaction at supermarkets and 10 cents per transaction at convenience stores like Cheers. And guess what? Between 2019 and 2020, these outlets saved 15.6 million plastic bags!

This clearly demonstrates that charging an amount could effectively work in favour of the environment. However, an important aspect that needs to be addressed is the cost of these bags (we will address this below).

When Would Singapore Start Charging For Plastic Bags?

From 3 July, bag charges will apply to supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than S$100 million. The charge applies only to disposable carrier bags, excluding flat-top plastic bags for fresh produce, meat, or seafood.

How Much Are Supermarkets Charging For Plastic Bags?

Not that you need another reminder, but small fees can snowball. These are plastic bag charges by each major player in Singapore:

SupermarketCost Per Bag
Ang Mo Supermarket
Cold Storage
CS Fresh
DonDonDonKi10¢
Fairprice Xpress
Giant
Guardian
Hao Mart, Hao Eccellente
Jasons Deli
Prime Supermarket
NTUC Fairprice, Fairprice Finest, Fairprice Xtra, Finest Gourmet
Scarlett Supermarket10¢
Sheng Siong
Watsons10¢

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Is It Cheaper If You Buy Bin Liners Vs Paying For Plastic Bags?

Needless to say, it costs nothing when you can take plastic bags for free before 3 July.

Source: Giphy

And by our kiasu (fear of losing) nature, we take more bags than we might actually need.

A 2018 study by the Singapore Environment Council found that shoppers in Singapore take 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets yearly, or 146 bags per person.

Would This Really Reduce Singaporean’s Usage of Plastic Bags?

Source: Giphy

I don’t know about you, and I won’t ask you to immediately switch to using recyclable bags.

But, a common use of plastic bags is putting trash away and tossing them into the rubbish chute found in your Housing Development Board (HDB) flat’s common area.

Here’s something to think about:

Assuming you’re using one bag per day for trash, this would cost you roughly $18.25 for 365 days.

Now, if you purchase trash bags or bin liners which are way bigger, you don’t have to throw out the trash every day.

A pack of 100 Alsan bin liners (760mm x 865mm) is priced at $9.59 at Fairprice. That’s roughly $0.10 per bag, twice that of a single plastic bag (204mm x 305mm) and more than double the size of it.

If you consciously use bin liners by disposing of wet and dry trash properly and only changing them every 3 to 4 days, you would only need two bags per week. This can save you from potential cleanup costs or the need to double bag with single-use plastic bags.

In one year, you would only need about 114 bags, which is about $19.18 for two packs of bin liners (i.e. 200 bin liners).

So, bin liners are more expensive. Should you still make the switch?

The price difference is about $0.93, but you would have saved 251 bags.

Would it be more cost-efficient in the long run?

I would like to believe so.

While single-use plastic bags may initially seem cheaper, bin liners designed for durability and fit may be more cost-efficient in terms of their effectiveness and potential to reduce the overall number of bags used. This can offset the need to constantly buy new single-use plastic bags.

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Can Supermarket Bag Charge Break Singapore’s Plastic Addiction?

We can all agree that a single approach may not be foolproof to tackle the excessive use of plastic bags.

Some supermarkets, such as Cold Storage, Giant and Fairprice NTUC, have adopted an honour system for charging for plastic bags, while Sheng Siong has implemented a plastic bag dispenser at self-checkout counters where shoppers need to tap on a button to indicate if they need a bag.

These systems require shoppers to declare each plastic bag they take and rely on customers to “do the right thing.”

While most people likely take plastic bags based on their needs, there may still be instances of under-declaration of the actual number of bags taken.

Nonetheless, this is a positive step towards using only what we need, recognising that plastic bags are just one of many products contributing to waste.

Simply increasing the price of plastic bags may not serve as a strong deterrent for consumers. If the price is set too low, some may choose to pay for convenience, while setting it too high could disproportionately impact low-income households.

Rather than solely focusing on price, it’s crucial to address our behaviour. When plastic bags are not readily available or come with a price tag, we begin to question the necessity of taking excessive bags.

In addition to the environmental benefits, such a policy has the potential to shift the culture surrounding single-use plastic. Many individuals know its detrimental impact, but a gentle push can help bring about behavioural change.

I’m leaving this quote here for you to ponder:

“By making the cost of disposable carrier bags visible to consumers, the charge will nudge consumers to be mindful of and reduce their usage of disposables.”
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment & Ministry of Transport

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Countries That Have Implemented Plastic Bag Charge Successfully

Some countries closer to home have implemented successful plastic bag charge programmes.

CountriesPolicy
IndonesiaLevy an excise tax of 200 Rupiah S$.02) per plastic bag
Japan3 - 5¥ (S$0.04) per plastic bag
MalaysiaSince 2018, 20 sen (S$0.065) per plastic bag
ThailandMajor stores have been prohibited from carrying single-use plastic bags since 2022 and will move to complete ban in 2023
TaiwanSince 2002, NT$1 (S$0.043) per plastic bag
United KingdomSince 2011, 5 pence (S$0.09) per plastic bag and set to increase to 10 pence in 2023

For the uninitiated, the charge for plastic bags in the United Kingdom (UK), where each bag has cost 5p since 2015 (and went up to 10p recently), has led to a massive drop in usage of 97%. The average shopper in a major UK supermarket now uses just three plastic bags per year, compared to 140 back in 2014.

It goes a long way, but this little shift has created a great impact.

Ultimately, for the plastic bag charge to be successful, people must be convinced of the environmental causes behind the new regulation.

More Tips For Saving Your Wallet And/or the Environment?

Source: Know Your Meme

Love to save more on your grocery shopping?

Here are some more hacks for saving on your next grocery run.

Feel free to check out these supermarket discounts for senior citizens as well!

Find out how you can save on delivery charges when you shop online for groceries too!

Have an opinion to share? Tell us in the Seedly Community!

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About Hui Juan Neo
A savvy shopper and foodie at heart, I'm always on a lookout for discounts and deals to snag the best bargains.
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